On top of releasing her screenwriting debut, “Queen & Slim,” in theaters last month, Emmy award-winning producer Lena Waithe has even more reason to celebrate.
Waithe will be honored with the Creative Impact in Producing Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival as part of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch brunch, presented by AT&T.
Related: Her Thoughts - Queen & Slim’: Through the Pages of Screenwriter Lena Waithe
“Lena Waithe is one of the most prolific writer-actor-producers working in Hollywood right now, with an extraordinary ability to get projects with black filmmakers and talent produced for film and television,” says Claudia Eller, Variety editor-in-chief. “With ‘Queen & Slim,’ Lena wrote and produced a story that has been central to the conversation regarding representation and storytelling in the black community. Her determination to get these stories told is inspiring.”
Variety also reports that Queen & Slim received the Impact Award and was listed as one of the top 10 Best Films of the Year by the African-American Film Critics Association.
In an article for Vanity Fair, Waithe mentions, “The hardest thing about being a black writer in this town is having to pitch your black story to white execs.” She continues, “Also, most of the time when we go into rooms to pitch, there’s one token black executive that sometimes can be a friend and sometimes can be a foe. I wonder if they think it makes me more comfortable, if that makes me think that they’re a woke network or studio because they’ve got that one black exec. It feels patronizing. I’m not against a black exec. I want there to be more of them.”
Marking her star in a history-making moment, Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. She won for Master of None’s Season 2 episode, “Thanksgiving,” which she co-penned with fellow writer Azia Ansari. The episode is about Waithe’s character coming out as a lesbian to her family over the course of two decades.
In her acceptance speech, the writer-actress remarked:
The things that make us different — those are our superpowers. Every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world, because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren't in it. And for everybody out there that showed us so much love for this episode, thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a queer black girl from the South Side of Chicago.
The trailblazer is also the creator of the Showtime drama The Chi and the upcoming TBS comedy Twenties. The latter is a women-driven comedy that Waithe created and wrote ten years ago when she was in her early 20s herself. Twenties is “the adventure of a queer black girl, Hattie, and her two straight best friends, Marie and Nia, who spend most of their days talking shit and chasing their dreams. It’s a show about friendship, finding love, and messing everything up along the way”, according to Deadline.
Previously announced honorees of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch brunch include “The Irishman” star Robert De Niro, who is being honored with the Creative Impact in Acting award, and “Joker” director Todd Phillips, who will receive the Creative Impact in Directing award.